Facebook Inc. (FB) reported Q3 2020 earnings on October 29, 2020. Below is the full edited verbatim transcript of the earnings call conference event.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Operator: Good afternoon. My name is Mike and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Facebook’s third quarter 2020 earnings conference call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] This call will be recorded. Thank you very much.
Ms. Deborah Crawford, Facebook’s Vice President of Investor Relations, you may begin.
Deborah Crawford – Vice President, Investor Relations
Thank you. Good afternoon and welcome to Facebook’s third quarter 2020 earnings conference call. Joining me today to discuss our results are Mark Zuckerberg, CEO; Sheryl Sandberg, COO and Dave Wehner, CFO.
Before we get started, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our remarks today will include forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause these results to differ materially are set forth in today’s press release and in our quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements that we make on this call are based on assumptions as of today and we undertake no obligation to update these statements as a result of new information or future events.
During this call, we may present both GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP measures is included in today’s earnings press release. The press release and an accompanying investor presentation are available on our website at investor.fb.com.
And now I’d like to turn the call over to Mark.
Mark Zuckerberg – Founder, Chairman and CEO
All right. Thanks everyone for joining us today. I hope you’re all staying safe and doing well.
We had another strong quarter as people and businesses continue to rely on our services to stay connected and create economic opportunity, especially during these tough times. Now 2.5 billion people around the world use one or more of our apps, each day. More than 200 million businesses use our free tools and there are more than 10 million active advertisers across our services. Most of these are small businesses which otherwise would have had a much harder time moving online and reaching customers during this pandemic and that’s something that I’m really proud of.
And before I cover other topics, the election is of course top of mind for everyone right now, so I want to start there. I’ve discussed our effort many times on previous calls, but I want to take a few minutes to reiterate how far we have come since 2016.
Four years ago, our security teams were looking for traditional threats like hacking, but what we ended up seeing was something new: coordinated interference campaigns using fake accounts. They tried to spread misinformation and discord and since then, we’ve built the most advanced systems in the world to find and remove these threats and it shows in the numbers.
In the years since, we’ve taken down more than 100 networks including from Russia, Iran, and China, and we block millions of potentially abusive accounts every day. No other company has systems nearly as advanced.
We’ve also taken industry leading steps to make ads transparent, so people know who is trying to gain their support. Anyone who wants to run a political or social issue ad has to go through our authorization process first and between March and September, we rejected ads 2.2 million times before they could run for trying to target the US without authorization.
We also built the ads library where you can see any ad that is running on Facebook or Instagram even if it’s not targeted to you. For political and social issue ads, you can see you paid for the ad and what audience the ad reached, making political advertising on Facebook more transparent than any other medium.
We are very focused on voter suppression, working closely with experts in the space, including civil rights leaders and I am grateful for their guidance here. Our policies prohibit misrepresentations of when and how to vote and content meant to intimidate people into not showing up to polling places like claiming that ICE will be there.
And we recently expanded these policies to include implicit misrepresentations like for example claims that you will get COVID by voting in person. From March through mid-October, we removed more than 135,000 pieces of content in the U.S. for breaking these rules.
Now, these are all changes we’ve made in the last four years and it helped us protect the integrity of more than 200 different elections around the world, including in the EU, India, and Indonesia. And they’ve been important for stopping abuse as have next week’s vote in the US.
But 2020 has also brought new challenges. COVID raises questions about how people will vote safely, which will lead to higher levels of voting by mail and I’m worried that with our nation so divided, and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country.
And given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before. That’s why we’ve taken additional steps to help people register to vote however they’re comfortable, to clear-up confusion about how this election will work and reduce the chance of uncertainty and unrest.
It would take too long for me to cover everything we’ve done in detail, but I’d like to mention a few things.
First, we ran at the largest voting information campaign in American history. We estimate that we’ve helped 4.4 million people register, exceeding the goal that we set for ourselves this summer. We also estimate that in September, we helped 100,000 people sign up to be poll workers and South Carolina saw a 20% of their total sign-ups to-date over a single weekend that we ran that recruitment drive.
We’re also taking a number of additional precautionary steps. As of this Tuesday, we blocked new political and social issue ads from running the week ahead of election day and after the election. We’re doing this because, well, I generally believe that the best antidote to bad speech is more speech. In the final days of an election, there may simply not be enough time to contest new claims.
If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are called, we’ll put a notification of the top of people’s Facebook and Instagram feed letting them know the results aren’t final yet and we’ll put an informational label on candidate’s post saying the same.
We’re also attaching an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or any particular voting method. And when there is the projected winner, we’ll send people notifications letting them know and we’ll show them in the voting information center we’ve been displaying at the top of our apps.
Finally, we’ve made a number of important content moderation decisions in recent weeks, including banning QAnon and Holocaust Denial Content, as well as rejecting ad that discourage vaccines. And to be clear, this is not a shift in our underlying philosophy or strong support of free expression. Instead, it is a reflection of the increased risk of violence and unrest and an increased risk of harm associated with vaccine misinformation as we near an approved COVID vaccine.
Even the strongest free expression advocates don’t think you should be able to yell fire in a crowded theater because they recognize that your actions or speech should not be able to put people in imminent risk of physical harm and our policies here try to balance free expression and safety as well. And that’s what we’re doing.
While next week will certainly be a test for Facebook, our systems have been tested in many elections over the last few years. Election integrity is and will be an ongoing challenge and I’m proud of the work that we have done here. I also know that our work doesn’t stop after November 3rd, so we will keep anticipating new threats, evolving our approach and fighting to protect the integrity of the democratic process and the right of people to make their voices heard around the world.